By Renée Jean, Business and Tourism Reporter
A love for taking pictures may have led to the disappearance of a Natrona County man, according to one family member.
Bruce Wayne Campbell, 60, disappeared on the afternoon of Jan. 19 at Edness Kimball Park, near the North Platte River.
Authorities found his van, a white Ford Windstar, and his dog, Jax, leashed, but wandering the park. A pair of Campbell’s shoes were lying on the ground near his van, along with a few tracks. Those soon disappeared, however, leaving the trail cold.
Authorities did spot a hole in the ice on the river nearby, just a little way in from the shoreline. That has led them to suggest the man could have fallen in.
Among comments on son Justin E. Campbell’s Facebook post in the group Missing People of Wyoming is one from a woman identifying herself as Bruce Wayne Campbell’s cousin, Susie Campbell.
“Your family here in Michigan is feeling the pain of Aunt Sherry and his kid’s,” she wrote. “Please Lord, bring Bruce home safe.
“To be honest, the love for taking pictures by Bruce, I’m really concerned he walked out on the river. Please keep checking the area of the water. Please be found safe, and sending all the love and prayers to the family!!!”
River Ice Is Treacherous
According to Natrona County Sheriff’s Department, the Platte River is mostly ice-covered right now, but some areas are open. Water is flowing quickly beneath areas under the ice, which can lead to weak spots. With snow also covering the ice, it can be difficult to spot these weakened, treacherous areas.
On Facebook, in Missing People of Wyoming, Campbell’s son Justin E. Campbell said resuers had used a boat to crush ice on the river and conduct a scan. That effort continued until the ice got too thick and hard to break.
Family members told authorities Campbell went for a walk in the park, something he often did, even in winter.
Campbell’s last known location, according to cell phone tower data, was near his vehicle, at 3:15 p.m. Jan. 19, authorities say.
Search and rescue teams have already covered more than 100 miles over ground and water in the park, Natrona County Sheriff’s Office said.
These searches included personnel on foot as well as specialized equipment, K-9 Search and Rescue Teams, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, ground-based cameras, and night vision devices. An airboat and underwater sonar equipment were employed as well.
While authorities conducted ground searches in one area of the park, Justin Campbell and some other family members and friends searched other areas of the park, widening the search area.
Authorities have suspended search efforts as of Jan. 23, due to conditions on the ice, but plan to resume once weather conditions provide better access to the river.
“Please keep my dad and my family in your prayers,” Justin Campbell wrote on Facebook. “I pray we find him.”
The investigation of Campbell’s disappearance continues, and anyone with information about him is urged to contact the Investigations Division of the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office at 307-235-9282.